I didn't realize how much I needed a getaway until I traveled with 30 Macaroni KID publishers to Meliá Caribe Beach in early August for our annual Macaroni KID Boondoggle. Our 2021 trip brought us together for four beautiful days in the Dominican Republic sun. My COVID-exhausted soul soaked up every single minute.
Here are 10 reasons why I loved our getaway to the all-inclusive, family-friendly Meliá Caribe Beach in Punta Cana:
1. The resort staff made us feel special, at home, and safe
Some members of the 900-person staff called us "familia" and we felt like it — they were always quick with a smile and even a joke, and always attentive and quick to please. We thoroughly enjoyed "The Level," which is Meliá's exclusive and personalized service where every detail has been designed to make your stay a dream. From the entertainers to the waitstaff, it felt like the people at Meliá Caribe Beach enjoyed their jobs, each other, and us — and that made us feel so much more at ease and at home ourselves.
I also felt insulated from the pandemic here. The staff wore masks at all times and are vaccinated and tested regularly for COVID. Resort guests are asked to take precautions as well (such as wearing plastic gloves while in the buffet stations) and everyone seemed respectful of each other and the circumstances. I felt safer than I do at the grocery store!
2. The beautiful pools
Meliá Caribe Beach
I always worry that the pictures I see of a resort won't live up to the actual experience. I mean, that shade of blue doesn't really exist, does it? I can tell you that it does at Meliá Caribe Beach! The enormous turquoise lagoon-style pools meander across the resort property, a large oasis of that gorgeous blue that I couldn't wait to sink into. There are both kid-friendly pools and adults-only pools so large you will want to go exploring to see all of it.
3. The amazing entertainment
The resort produced amazing one-of-a-kind experiences again and again in just the four days we were there. Highlights: Beachside performers, a flash mob, a poolside party with dancers, a silent disco, and nighty entertainment on the stage, ranging from family-friendly movies to thrilling dance shows and performances.
Here are some of the highlights:
4. I didn't have to think about a single meal
A four-day break from slathering peanut butter on bread? When you've been home with kids as much as we all have during the pandemic — let's just say it was bliss not to be asked for a snack. Or to make a box of macaroni and cheese. Or to have to load the dishwasher. Again.
Instead, this all-inclusive resort offers 13 restaurants, including Mediterranean, Mexican, Asian, and Spanish themes. Every meal was great — from edible breakfast displays to candlelit dinners to gorgeous drinks and beachside meals ... and I didn’t have to open a jar of peanut butter once. This mama’s dream vacation.
5. Time on the Caribbean Sea
Sink your toes into that warm golden sugar sand, breathe in that Caribbean Sea air, and you can feel the weight of the last year and a half just lift off your shoulders. The resort's Bávaro Beach is warm, calm, and Caribbean blue — making it a great swimming beach for families.
6. Learning about another country
I'd never been to the Dominican Republic before, and learned a ton about this beautiful country in just a few short days there. One of the great experiences we had: Spending an hour with representatives from the Chocolate Experience DR. They talked us through the entire chocolate-making process and even let us try cacao seeds straight from a cacao pod.
Through Meliá Caribe Beach, we were also able to sign up for an off-resort excursion with Bebe Catamarans. We spent a happy morning in the Caribbean snorkeling on a nearby reef, spotting sea urchins, getting out of the way of silvery needlefish, and pointing out pufferfish swimming about. The staff onboard brought the party — leading dances and keeping our cups full.
7. The amazing resort experiences
I indulged in an afternoon at the YHI Spa with some friends. Talk about pampering! There's also daily exercise activities like yoga, aqua Zumba, water volleyball, and dance classes.
Plus: The resort animals! While we see turkeys wandering about at home on occasion, we certainly don't get to see peacocks and flamingos out and about. It was a thrill each time to see these colorful birds wandering the resort property. I even stumbled on one peacock with his feathers fully extended, giving a show to a potential partner nearby. Day. Made.
Peacocks wander the grounds at-will on Meliá Caribe Beach, thrilling guests of all ages.
8. The family-friendly vibe
As a mama, I'm always on the lookout for kid-centered fun. Meliá Caribe Beach is the ultimate in family fun, with a water park complete with slides, waterfalls, and a splash pad and a supervised kids program for kids as young as 8 months. The Kids Zone, meanwhile, features billiards and ping-pong tables and activities all day long. The resort restaurants also have plenty of kid-friendly options, like a waffle bar, a donut display, and even a cotton candy machine.
Whether you go for a girls' weekend, a couples getaway, or a family vacation Meliá Caribe Beach offers a special experience.
9. The wonderful people of the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic depends on tourism more than any other country in the Latin American region, so the pandemic has been difficult, to say the least. The Meliá Caribe Beach's general manager thanked us on our first night for coming to Punta Cana and helping to support the 900 Dominican Republic families that depend on the resort for income. It's something I didn't think about when making reservations, but something that made me feel good about bringing my tourism dollars to this country.
10. The chance to reconnect
I didn't realize how much I had missed in-person meetups with other Macaroni KID publishers. We talk frequently on the phone, on Facebook, and by text, but seeing their faces in person, having that chance to talk, share, and laugh until we cried ... I've missed that more than I realized.
Meliá Caribe Beach allowed us to reconnect in a happy bubble that left me feeling like I was floating on air long after I arrived back home in Erie. The staff of Meliá Caribe Beach made that possible, and I will always be grateful for their kindnesses and joyful spirits. That feeling and those memories are something each of us can carry with us — until the next time.
Outdoors Family Photo
The author was hosted at Meliá Caribe Beach for purposes of a review. All opinions are her own.